F1 racing is a sport built around power and precision, stamina and strategy, mileage and mechanics. But as the sport evolves into a battle of the constructors and cars become increasingly more advanced, the personalities play an ever present role. On-track bust-ups and Lewis Hamilton's private life tend to encapsulate the motorsport public, however, in recent years, F1 has been crying out for a new plot line.
Who Is Lance Stroll?
Enter Lance Stroll, the youngest driver in the field and the newest member of racing's elite.
Lance Stroll became the second youngest driver to start an F1 race when he took the field in the 2017 Australian GP earlier this year. The Canadian driver was signed by Williams after impressive stints in the FIA Euro F3 Series and the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand and has started seven races to date, including a career-high ninth place at his home grand prix in Montreal.
Stroll is aiming to help Williams return to the glory days of the 80's and 90's and become the first champion for the constructor since Jacques Villeneuve, also the last Canadian to win the championship, stood atop the final standings in 1997.
Stroll's entry into the sport of motor racing, not uncommon in the modern era, was paved by his billionaire father Lawrence who earned his fortune in the fashion industry.
Critics have unsurprisingly used this to sledge the newcomer, stating that he has bought his way onto the elite 20-man grid and is far too young to enter the fray. However, Stroll's rise to the top has been built around some decent championship victories. The man himself does not deny he is from a wealthy background, and can only work hard to prove the haters wrong.
Williams are obviously not one of his critics and feel they have signed the young Canadian at the perfect time. Felipe Massa's original decision to retire at the end of the season was set to leave a void, but the constructor was able to secure him on a one year deal and this will certainly work in Stroll's favour. Massa has fifteen years of experience at the top level and will provide guidance both on and off the track for the rookie.
It will be interesting to see what pairing Williams comes up with next year. Will they look at another experienced head to help shape Stroll, or will they roll the dice and go for another youngster?
Best Canadian F1 Driver
While history will show that Jacques Villeneuve was the greatest Canadian to grace the F1 grid, long-time followers of the sport rate his father Gilles as Canada's best ever. Some even go as far to say that he was the world's best at the peak of his career.
Before his tragic death at the 1982 Belgian grand prix, Villeneuve managed a second-placed finish in the 1979 driver's championship and managed six career victories. He also remains the only Canadian to have won a home grand prix, doing so in the same season. Jacques Villeneuve is the only Canadian to have won a F1 Championship, doing what his father never achieved in 1997.
Until Stroll's recent entry into the sport he was the most recent Canadian representative at the highest level, driving in eleven Formula 1 seasons and starting 163 races.
Jacques retired after the German grand prix in 2006 with 11 wins, 23 podium finishes and even placed second in the 24 hour Le Mans race. Lance Stroll was not even born when Villeneuve lifted his sole F1 Championship trophy, yet he will be almost eternally compared to the most successful Canadian driver in history such is the lack of representation in the sport over the last decade.
The racing fans from the great white north need to be patient and bide their time in their support of the Canadian who has only finished four from seven starts in his first season. The good news for Stroll is that time is definitely on his side. As long as Williams are also patient, he can expect to work his way into a long and distinguished career.
Whether or not he follows in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, who some are now suggesting may rival Michael Schumacher as the greatest in the history of the sport once his career is over, is completely up to him. He has the backing, he has the ability, so it is now down to his work ethic.
Formula 1 Betting
As always, there are a range of betting options available from all of the leading sportsbooks, and we bring you the pick of the bunch. You can choose whether to bet on individual race lines, including individual driver performances, or select to punt on the overall drivers or constructors championships. Betting on Formula 1 allows you to really show your knowledge.
While Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel continue to fight it out in most races and provide punters with numbers that are hardly worth the effort, you can always back an outsider for a podium finish or even a top ten.
Lance Stroll is a good example here - it was always likely that he would excel in his first ever home grand prix and he was at decent odds to get his first championship points. Stroll met these expectations and finished with a career-best ninth place.
It is never too early to bet on the drivers championship, and you can be sure to get great futures odds throughout the season. Hamilton is currently behind Vettel in the overall standings and therefore the odds on him winning his fourth title will be significantly more valuable than at the start of the year. If you think Sebastian has the ability to hold his lead for the rest of the year you can certainly jump on him now, as the odds have changed dramatically after the Montreal GP.
For those who really love a challenge, there are several exotic options available for every individual grand prix. You can bet on the first driver or constructor to retire, decide whether a particular driver will be caught speeding in the pit lane and even drop a wager on the winning margin.
There is almost no limit to the options available to you. Whatever you choose, you can be sure to find the best odds and lines in one place - right here. Why not join the conversation on Facebook and discuss your wagers with other Formula 1 fans. Best of luck!